Grief does not begin or end with a funeral and it definitely does not have an expiration date or a timeline attached to it. Yet, society tries to put grief in a box filled with expectations, timelines and wrapping it up neatly with a bow. In truth, there is nothing neat and tidy about grief. Grief is messy and there will be days long after the funeral that leave you feeling sad, alone and lost.
Depending on the situation and the loss, grief can begin long before we lose someone. The diagnosis of a terminal illness can turn lives upside down and grief sets in quickly. Regardless of how long the illness is or how resilient a person might be, a terminal diagnosis is devastating and life changes on the spot. Grief shows up knocking at the door early and it keeps on knocking.
Deaths that happen unexpectedly and without warning crash into our lives with intensity, leaving people in a state of shock. There is no way to prepare for the news or the heartache when a person dies suddenly. Regardless of the reason, an unexpected death is difficult and while there is typically disbelief, grief hits hard and can knock even the strongest of us to the floor.
An unexpected death or the painful process of caring for and watching a loved die creates a tangled web of grief and it hurts. Bad.
The death of a loved one quickly sweeps people into a raging current of chaos. There are calls to make and a funeral service to plan. People come and go dropping off food and offering to help in any way they can. There is a flurry of activity; for awhile.
Suddenly, the funeral is over and eventually everyone goes home. Things become quiet and the silence can be deafening. There are kids to raise, jobs to do and bills to pay. People feel alone, exhausted and desperate to hold a life together that has broken into a million little pieces. Life continues to march on whether we feel ready to march with it or not and even the simplest of tasks can feel hard. Suddenly, life divides into two distinct periods of time; life before the death and life after the death. Nothing feels normal and even though people do care, grievers often feel like they are walking this new journey alone.
Death is a part of life. It is a thread that binds humans together and at some point, it will weave its way into the lives of everyone. Grief does not care about age, gender or race. Everyone will face loss and eventually, grief will become a part of who you are.
There is no escaping grief yet society remains uncomfortable with it. No one wants to talk about it and instead of dealing with the deep emotional pain, people try to ignore it or to hide their grief deep inside. Grievers weep in silence hidden in the dark and private corners of their rooms. Years later, people are still trying to heal a broken heart caused by unresolved grief and pain. People often do not grieve in the way they need to grieve nor do people know how to help. Loved ones mean well but unfortunately, people often say things that do more harm than good.
“It has been six months, it is time to move on and get back to living life.”
“I’m sorry for your loss but at least they are no longer suffering.”
“Your grandmother lived a good and long life. It was her time.”
“Get back to work and stay busy. It will help to keep things off your mind.”
” Don’t cry. You need to be strong for the children.”
“Maybe it will help to meet someone new and start dating.”
“Get out and have some fun. Sarah wouldn’t want you to be sad.”
“Maybe you should talk to a counselor. This isn’t normal, you should be feeling better by now.”
People that are grieving start to believe these words and feel that something is wrong with them. Grievers question if it is normal to grieve. Society has learned that it is NOT okay to grieve for very long. I can assure you that grief is completely normal and it is an important part of healing your broken heart.
There is nothing simple about grief. Grief is complex, messy and brutal. It hurts. Grief is personal and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. There are no timelines to how long a person should or should not grieve. Humans are not robots nor is there a rule book when it comes to grief. Period.
For anyone grieving I understand. I am a recovering griever and always will be. It is impossible to know exactly how you are feeling because I am not in your shoes and your grief is personal to you, but I get it. Grief can last a lifetime and it does not go away because time passes by. Grieving will always be a part of you. There will be days when the grief softens and mellows but there will be days when it blindsides you and rips the wounds open again. Triggers are everywhere and it can feel like you are navigating a minefield in the middle of your own life.
In short, life will never be the same. Grief leaves a permanent scar that is often invisible to the rest of the world.
There will be times when life feels impossible and like you will never find happiness again. You will feel alone and like no one understands how you feel. The walk of grief can be a lonely one. But remember this, you are not alone and grief is an enemy that we ALL must face. There are thousands of people that have days filled with grief and a broken heart just like you. So, feel what you need to feel. Allow yourself to grieve. It is okay to sob in the shower, feel sad or scream. Own your grief and walk with it instead of trying to run away from it.
Grief will change a persons life and yes, it will become a part of you. Grief does not end when the funeral is over. It is possible to heal a broken heart. Life will be different but people can learn to love and accept a different life. Joy can become a part of life once again. It is not easy but have faith that it is possible and that you will be okay.
My hope for anyone grieving is that you can find peace in your journey and to know that you are not alone. I acknowledge your pain and while I cannot take it away, I empathize with you as your heart aches for someone you have lost.
In Peace and With Love,